Why aren't there any affordable tapeless devices? at DVinfo.net

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Old July 13th, 2008, 09:19 AM   #1
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Why aren't there any affordable tapeless devices?

The Firestore, Flash XDR, etc. are great if you can afford them, but I'm wondering why someone hasn't come out with a simple firewire-connected flash card (CF or SDHC) unit that attaches to the camcorder and starts/stops when the record-button is pressed? Sort of a "poor man's" MRC1. It wouldn't have to provide metadata or a multitude of codecs or connectors, as long as it's able to parallel-record the signal going to tape. It seems like the technology is readily available, and would be much cheaper to produce than the pro-level units...
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Old July 13th, 2008, 10:22 AM   #2
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Let me turn that around... Why aren't you making one?

But seriously, they may happen yet. However, if you need a inexpensive device that records full HD to CF today, you can buy one here.

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Old July 13th, 2008, 11:27 AM   #3
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"Let me turn that around... Why aren't you making one?"

Because I wouldn't have a clue where to begin. I'm not an engineer (but if I were, I'd probably be trying to make one).

The HF100 is a good cam, but I already have 2 PD170s and at this time I'm only delivering SD video to my clients. I recently did a 3-day seminar with 2 cameras at 5-6 hours straight taping per day, and all those tape changes along with the subsequent sync'ing in post got me thinking... I have 9-hour batteries but only 60 minutes per tape; that got me thinking about the benefits of Firestore et. al. but they are very expensive for a small production house. I can record live to a laptop, but that isn't very portable. I started wondering why there wasn't a simpler, more straightforward device to record a multi-hour stream of video. Something about the size of a pack of cigarettes with 2-4 card slots for hot-swapping, that could be fixed to the camera for ultimate portability. The common availability and cheap price of flash cards and card readers seems like a no-brainer for this purpose, but I thought maybe there was a technical reason why no one has done this yet?
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Old July 13th, 2008, 12:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George Kroonder View Post
...if you need a inexpensive device that records full HD to CF today, you can buy one here.
Actually that's recording to SDHC, not CF -- just to clarify.
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Old July 13th, 2008, 01:42 PM   #5
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I don't think there's a technical reason, like it's imposible. Just that "upgrades" to exisiting systems for new functionality have "some issues". Look over at the Flash XDR and Cineform "Solid" threads. It takes quite some development to actually deliver the technology and you have to take compatibility and seemingly never ending wishlists into account.

Also there is always the risk that you will be "overtaken" by market developments, like when a major player decides to have a go at "your" niche market. And camera technology is always moving forward and will eventually, inevitably, obsolete your product.

Currently and FS-4 HD goes for less than $700 for 60Gb and will record 4.5-6 hours. Just calculate how much time you spend in capturing the tapes for your projects and at what costs and multiply by the number of events you project to do in a year. I doubt you will not be able to justify the expense.

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P.S. CH, I'll promise to do better fact checking! ;-)
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Old July 13th, 2008, 01:53 PM   #6
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i think simply the price is the main factor.
even if the device cost only 300$, the number and price of 16 or 32 gig card you would need would push the enveloppe far higher than the current model you can find today.
remember a 1 hour DV tape is about 12gig size.
i find more problematic the harddisk based device coming with 40 or 80gig disks when you know that for aout same price (often les than 20$ more , you can get a 120 or 160gig disk).
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Old July 13th, 2008, 02:28 PM   #7
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Well, there are people that "upgrade" their FireStors with bigger HD's, but I wouldn't advice it when the unit is still under warranty.

The FS DTE's are not just "harddisks", but video recorders and to some extend their pricing will reflect the value they realize for you by means of productivity gains. The cost of individual components is relatively irrelevant.

You can ask yourself why a company does something some way and not another or why they seem to lag behind in some technological way. However, for mass produced products companies often need to make decisions well in advance of production and for reasons of support and price (volume) need to stick with those often somewhat longer than the rush of technology would seem to command.

But in the end this is all unimportant. Simply ask if the solution solve a problem for you, improves your business. And then ask if you can justify the cost.

It is always important to improve your business and make it as efficient as you can, and time is a real constraint.

George/
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Old July 16th, 2008, 07:58 AM   #8
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Most of us ...

Are comparing an HD camera on the high end or mid-high end with something like convergent designs nanno/Flash XDR and a EX1 or EX3 and when you do the math ... this is a very inexpensive way to get high end footage!
It's a quality thing; HD/SDI out with 4.2.2 is professional broadcast standard and everything down scaled from there is doable on many levels of output. This approach with quality Mpeg 2 at 4.2.2 will be around for quite some time ... I hope!
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Old July 17th, 2008, 10:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Falbey View Post
The Firestore, Flash XDR, etc. are great if you can afford them, but I'm wondering why someone hasn't come out with a simple firewire-connected flash card (CF or SDHC) unit that attaches to the camcorder and starts/stops when the record-button is pressed? Sort of a "poor man's" MRC1..
I'd love to see less-expensive media, too, but...

I suspect it's a little more complicated than most of us think, e.g. all existing external add-on units that I'm familiar with (FS, Citidisk, nNovia, and their ilk) are expensive because I believe they contain chips which, in turn, store software/firmware that "converts"/"interprets" the signal sent via firewire from the cam to the external unit (whatever brand it might be). I'm not an engineer, but I think that conversion/interpretation cannot be easily handled simply by attaching some "dumb" storage medium to the end of a firewire cable. (Because, without internal changes to the camera, e.g. menu changes and related software changes (at least), the camera isn't aware of the type of medium storing the data; that's traditionally left up to the device that "houses" the storage medium).

In light of those extra chips and software/firmware, and the costs of their development, testing, etc., I don't know that we're likely to see anything soon (if ever) that a single-owner or small business might consider "inexpensive".

I think many of us tend to forget that modern digital cameras should perhaps be thought of more as special-purpose computers than "merely" some optics and electronics. We're a long way from film, mechanics, and gears nowadays.

(my $.02 deposited).
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 04:27 PM   #10
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And on top of all the costs involved in designing and building one of these gadgets, don't forget the seemingly endless list of certification and compliance testing one has to go through today. It's quite a project to get UL/CSC marks for your product and without them you'll never get away with selling them to consumers. And then there are all the other safety standards you have to meet to sell worldwide - every country seems to have their own certification and labeling requirements. And there are also all the other details like being sure you don't use anything that the EC might consider a hazardous substance, or making sure your plastic parts don't contain banned flame retardants or your screws aren't plated with the wrong kind of chrome, and continually monitoring to make sure that the lower cost bad stuff doesn't sneak back in at your "trusted" offshore supplier.

And then designing appropriate packaging and testing it for shock and vibration tolerance to make sure that there's a fighting chance that the product will work after the delivery guy kicks it off the back of the truck in the more or less general direction of your door in the rain or snow.

And making sure that nobody uses untreated wood pallets to ship the stuff to you which will make US customs refuse to let your shipments of components enter the US.

I think we spend almost as much engineering manpower on stuff like this as we do on product design
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 05:03 PM   #11
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It is then a poor strategy to make an entry level with 40 gig disk and then propose the "pro" level with a disk twice bigger for almost double of price.
this lets the consumer believe the price difference is in the disk size.
And it sould be compared to similar device . Today for 999$ i can get a laptop with 4 gig of ram, core 2 duo, keyboard, touchpad , 320 gig disk, DVD burner, 15" LCD screen and vista license.
difficult to explain to consumer that a little box with 2 or 3 chip, small B&W lcd, 4 buttons and 40gig disk will cost you same price.
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 07:24 AM   #12
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Notebooks are sold in the many, many millions (31 milion in Q1 '08 alone). The specialized products discussed here sell in thousands, niche products may even be measured in hundreds. That is a massive difference in scale with a considerable effect on all costs.

Also you're $1000 notebook doesn't really represent the value to your business. You may very well not be able to run a business without a computer, so the true value could even be a lot higher. You see this in business software that can realize a certain value and is basically priced accordingly. The software on your notebook is most likely 2-5x the cost of the hardware, and it may be much easier to create and certainly is easier to manufacture and distribute.

In the (semi)professional video business there is also a strong relation to the value a solution adds. At the low end price and competition is also an important factor.

For example; if you look at the Sony PHU-60K as a 'harddisk' (which it essentially is), then it is expensive at ~$1000. If you look at it as an alternative for 4x 16GB SxS (~ $3400) it is inexpensive.

George/
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 07:51 AM   #13
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i perfectly understand this. but as member of the global village, parts for part, the reasoning
is not valid. If you see the device as the value of the parts + benefits for the company, it is hard to understand they cannot put a 160gig HDD into the device for a reasonable price, when anybody else can (thinking to all these users upgrading their firestor with 120 or 160 gig disk for less than 100$).
When your boss send your job to china or india, it justify by saying "it is cheaper there".

when you buy the china toys for your children shop X instead shop Y just because it is 5$ cheaper , you do the same.
Personnaly i cannot afford the extravagant price of SxS,and find the price of hardisk still to high. Why ?
Because following your reasoning, if a 1500$ harddisk is much cheaper than a 3400$ set of SxS card, it is still a LOT more expensive that a ton of DVtape
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 08:22 AM   #14
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There must not be a very large market for external tapeless recording devices. If there was, it would be cheap as the dickens (well under $100) to mass produce a (small and energy efficient) device, that uses removable flash memory, with functionality akin to that of a Firestore. (So long as it's simply a recording device, not an encoder) the engineering is simple enough for a college student to do as a class project.
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 11:24 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Giroud Francois View Post
Because following your reasoning, if a 1500$ harddisk is much cheaper than a 3400$ set of SxS card, it is still a LOT more expensive that a ton of DVtape
Sure, if tapeless workflow and improved quality/features have little or no value to your business (your customers really) then there is no reason to buy into that.

It's not like there is just one "right" solution; you choose what works best for you.

Why would even you want a solid state or disk recorder? Not that it is not okay to just wonder about and discuss things like this here...

George/
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